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Dentist who killed three patients paroled after 15 years in prison

July 22, 2010 |  7:59 am
A former Costa Mesa dentist who killed three people in his chair was granted parole Wednesday after serving more than 25 years of a 15-years-to-life sentence, state officials said.

The state parole board at Folsom State Prison granted Tony Protopappas, 65, his freedom amid a state Court of Appeal ruling demanding that he be released unless new evidence showed he was dangerous to society.

But the decision is not final. Gov. Schwarzenegger has 30 days to review the decision and can approve it, modify Protopappas' parole conditions or release date, kick it back for a review by the entire board or reverse the decision.

Proposition 89, adopted in 1988, allows the governor single-handedly to reverse parole decisions in murder cases only.

Parole board staff has 120 days to review the case for any errors of law or fact in its decision, said Luis Patino of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Protopappas' attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, was unavailable for comment Wednesday. In March, after his client won his appeal to get a new parole hearing, Pfeiffer said he expected the governor to reverse the board's decision and was ready to fight that reversal.

Protopappas was convicted in 1984 of three counts of second-degree murder. In late 1982 and early 1983, Protopappas killed Kim Andreassen, 23, Cathryn Jones, 31, and Patricia Craven, 13, by giving them fatal doses of a general anesthetic in his Costa Mesa dentist office.

Read the full story here in the Daily Pilot.

-- Joseph Serna, reporting for the Daily Pilot